The macabre fascination of watching players under million-dollar pressure was supposed to provide enough excitement to usher in a new era. But this 20/20 ‘showpiece’ has done nothing for the shorter game, and will drain from the American consciousness with barely a whimper.
Sitting in a pub where cricket rarely ventures, a few of punters revealed to me that they “hate cricket, but this 20 million game sounds actually quite interesting”. And then the cricket started.
On a lifeless pitch, unresponsive to any cash-injection, England, visibly top heavy with batsmen, donated their wickets away with carefree abandon - perhaps they weren’t so concerned about the dosh after all. The All-Stars played with a discipline and focus that too often eludes the West Indies, proving that the basics of training hard (and not wandering aimlessly across your stumps) remain essential whatever the contest. When Gayle launched his final boundary, it was genuinely warming to see the money go to the team who both deserved and needed it most.
What it all means for the wider sport remains unclear. That cricket becomes a tantalising prospect for kids growing up in the Caribbean is a fantastic legacy of this first game, but whether the ECB can hold its players back from the IPL now seems unlikely. They too, it seems were planning prematurely.